The augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) markets have seen their ups and downs, but Qualcomm remains unabashedly convinced that they’re an untapped goldmine. Citing research from IDC, the company expects the install base for standalone headsets like the HTC Vive Focus and Oculus Go to top 186 million by 2023.
That is one of the reasons the San Diego-based chipmaker two years ago announced a standalone VR headset reference design based on its Snapdragon 820 system-on-chip, and in early 2018 unveiled an upgraded version packing the Snapdragon 845. At the Augmented Reality World 2018 Expo in Santa Clara today, Qualcomm took the wraps off the platform’s latest incarnation, the Snapdragon XR1 platform (short for “Extended Reality 1”) — but unlike previous reference designs, it isn’t just intended for VR.
“It’s … purpose-built for the standalone VR and AR [headset] category,” Hugo Swart, head of XR business management at Qualcomm, told VentureBeat during a pre-briefing ahead of the announcement. “It’s a demonstration of how much [we] believe in the VR and AR space. We have a good view on where the market is and where it’s going.”
As Hugo tells it, the impetus for the Snapdragon XR1 platform was twofold: the high price point of current-generation AR/VR headsets, and the inelegance of aftermarket accessories like Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View. About 45 percent of consumers think that today’s AR and VR devices are too pricey, according to research firm Techanalysis, and 46 percent prefer standalone devices compared to smartphone-dependent…